Many nations want an aerial refueling capability, but cannot afford the cost of purchasing and operating a fleet of tankers. The solution is a commercial operation, GAS (Global Airtanker Service), a joint venture of Evergreen International Aviation and Omega Air. Evergreen is an a jack-of-all-trades aircraft services company, providing support, modifications, freight, and leasing services while Omega currently provides 100 hours a month of tanking service to the US Navy with a modified Boeing 707.
Omega provides fuel at around $7 a gallon while it costs the Navy around $17 a gallon when they refuel from a USAF or USN aircraft. Omega believes it can work costs down further by buying used DC-10 aircraft from Japan Airlines and having Evergreen modify them. Omega Airs 707 has been in operation since 2000 and refueled more than 8,000 fighter aircraft, delivering 4 million gallons of fuel in the process. Omega has a five year contract with the Navy and is building another 707 tanker for service in 2005.
In 2002, NATO defined specific needs for tanking, but has never come around to buying a tanker fleet to operate as a shared asset similar to the NATO AWACS fleet. GAS believes a rental model is an easier sell over purchasing a dedicated tanker fleet. According to company officials, at least 10 nations have expressed an interest. With the continuing deployment of U.S. forces across the world, tanker assets are in short supply.
GAS is expected to build an initial fleet of 5 to 10 KDC-10 aircraft with an option to convert a total of 20 aircraft, depending on demand. The KDC-10 would have two wing-mounted and once centerline hose-and-drogue refueling stations, plus a centerline boom. The first aircraft should be available by mid-2006. When not being rented for refueling, the aircraft can be used to transport freight or passengers. Doug Mohney